In the heart of Santa Fe, across from the Santa Fe River at the corner of Alameda and Galisteo, Pantry Rio features spacious indoor and outdoor seating, classic New Mexican fare and casual dining. The new sibling of The Pantry and Pantry Dos, Pantry Rio is distinguished by its outdoor patio and downtown location. “I think that’s what’s going to attract people next spring or summer,” says Oscar Quintana, assistant manager at the Pantry Rio. “We have a beautiful patio.” Quintana has been with the Pantry brand for ten years. Starting as a dishwasher at The Pantry’s original location, he has worked every position from those in the kitchen to the front of the house.
Featuring traditional New Mexican flavors, comfort foods and large portions, the Pantry name has a long history in Santa Fe. Pantry Rio continues this tradition, offering a wide range of breakfast and lunch options. Locals’ favorites include breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros and brisket tacos, all smothered in homemade red or green chile.
Quintana is proud of the food at the Pantry Rio. “Basically, everything that we serve is made from scratch,” he says. “I think that’s what stands out at the restaurant.” In classic New Mexico fashion, they balance spice and heat in the restaurant’s famous green chile. “I think The Pantry is well known for [its] green chile sauce,” Quintana said. “Our chiles really stand out. They have great taste.” And no visit to Pantry Rio is complete without a serving of “Pantry fries,” perfectly fried breakfast potatoes are soft and fluffy in the center, with satisfying, lightly crisped edges.
Santa Feans’ are happy that their favorite breakfast and lunch items from the original location are also on Pantry Rio’s menu, though the small kitchen has necessitated a few changes. “We’re not offering steaks or chicken-fried steaks since the kitchen is a little tight,” Quintana says, “but other than that, we’re serving the same food.”
Pantry Rio’s large outdoor and indoor dining areas feature a spacious floor plan and classic New Mexican style. “We have colorful tables and chairs [on the patio],” Quintana points out. “And then as you walk in, it’s a pretty open space.” Pantry Rio’s décor blends old Santa Fe images and style with modern accents: the restaurant’s team focuses on creating a comfortable, inviting atmosphere for diners. “The feedback that we’ve been getting from customers is that as you walk in, you feel welcome, you feel cozy, you feel warm,” Quintana says. “We’re trying to make every single customer feel that he or she is welcome.”
Originally founded by George Myers in 1948, The Pantry name has a long legacy to uphold at its newest location. Stan Singley has co-owned The Pantry’s original location with his son, Michael Singley, for over twenty years. “Our motto when we first started was ‘Santa Fe’s meeting place,’” he says. “We like to think we’re more of a family-operated deal.” Singley spoke proudly of The Pantry’s community involvement over the years. “When customers come to us and need a donation for their cause, we try to support them,” he says. Singley co-owns the new Pantry Rio with Max Myers, son of the original restaurant’s founder.
Though the new location is currently open for breakfast and lunch only, the management plans to expand into the evenings as the restaurant grows [and the public health crisis moderates]. “We also have a great area bar that we already have some plans for,” says Singley. “Probably some live music on the weekends. Beer and wine in the evening. It’s just a just a great, great spot.”
Every restaurant requires great customer service, and Pantry Rio is no exception. For James Peterson, a local who has been frequenting Pantry locations for the last forty years, it’s the service that draws him back. “We’ve always gotten treated like family,” he says. “It’s the hometown place to go, you know. I find myself not going anywhere else.”
Geoff Lambeth is a writer and photographer based in Santa Fe. He spends his free time backpacking, traveling to new places and enjoying old music. Passionate about pursuing under reported issues and sharing untold stories, Geoff aims to showcase a range of experiences and viewpoints through his work.